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  • Writer's pictureDanielle Hayden

Tough break

I've been reading more poetry lately, both in an effort to explore/broaden my horizons but also in the hope that it will improve my own writing. I do not consider myself a poet, but I believe that prose can greatly benefit from poetic influence; some of my favorite lines from novels and memoirs are lyrical in nature. There is a stereotype that poets (and writers in general) are sad people. I'm not too big on generalizations, but I thought this quote from Søren Kierkegaard was funny and worth a glance. (Not everything I share is necessarily something with which I agree, in whole or in part).

“What is a poet? An unhappy man who hides deep anguish in his heart, but whose lips are so formed that when the sigh and cry pass through them, it sounds like lovely music... And people flock around the poet and say: 'Sing again soon' - that is, 'May new sufferings torment your soul but your lips be fashioned as before, for the cry would only frighten us, but the music, that is blissful.'”

If that's not dark enough, he adds later on the page: "I tell you, I would rather be a swineherd, understood by the swine, than a poet misunderstood by men."

I'm not going to get into a discussion about the quote today, but I do concede that there is a correlation between artistry and pain. To my knowledge, I have not met a happy poet before, but that does not mean they do not exist. I have defied enough stereotypes as a black woman from the east side of Detroit to know that groups are not monoliths.

P.S. I know I've quoted Kierkegaard once before—and fairly recently too—but I have a mild obsession with him so this is a heads up that he will make an appearance again on this blog.

I kind of wish I could read Danish (specifically 19th century) so I could understand his original texts before things got lost in translation. I have so much respect and admiration for translators but I have said before that reading things in a language other than the author/poet originally wrote in is just as lamentable as it is worth celebrating.

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